Planning begins for new industrial park


WESTFIELD — The Industrial Development Commission began the process of creating an urban renewal plan that will become the blueprint for development of the city-owned Turnpike Industrial Park.
The commission and city officials met last night with a newly formed Citizen Advisory Committee, which includes several business owners as well as residents, including a representative of the Sabrina Brook subdivision built next to the property originally purchased by the city to serve as a landfill.
Maureen Hayes, of Hayes Development Services of Springfield, said the urban renewal planning process would provide definition for the proposed industrial park, identify restrictions the city may want to place on park, and will become a vehicle to obtain state and federal funding for the eventual development of the park infrastructure.
The urban renewal plan “prioritizes the project for local, state and federal funding,” Hayes said. “This is a tool that has been around a long time and is a very good tool for a municipality to have.”
“The Citizen Advisory Committee is a good way to obtain input in the development, implementation and execution of the urban renewal,” Hayes said. “This is a pretty simple plan” because the city already owns the 66 acres proposed for the light-industrial subdivision.
The Urban Renewal Plan target area is for nearly 142 acres, but there are no current plans to develop any private property bordering the city-owned tract, Hayes said.
The city has hired Tighe & Bond to design and engineer the layout of the 66 acres, which will include a large lot for future construction of a municipal dog shelter and park. The initial proposal is for 18 lots of at least one acre in size, as required under Industrial A zoning, and buildings of between 20,000 and 30,000 square feet each, but lots could be combined if a prospective tenant has the need for a building with more square footage.
The park would also restrict development near Sabrina Brook Drive where a 100-foot-wide natural buffer of trees and vegetation was included by the City Council as a condition of rezoning the land as Industrial A property, zoning needed to allow development of the industrial park.
City Advancement Officer Jeff Daley said that the urban renewal plan and the fact that the park is city owned gives the city greater ability to identify uses that will be allowed.
“It’s for manufacturing.  We can put restrictions on warehousing and storage facilities,” Daley said. “The city has recently rejected an offer from a big-box company to purchase all of the land, which is the fourth time the city has done that.”
Daley said that Industrial A property is currently selling for $80,000 and that the city could have taken the $4 million, but would have lost the ability to control the project.
Daley said the cost of building the road and underground infrastructure is estimated at $2.5 million. Utilities, including sewer, gas, electrical and water, will be extended into the industrial park from Turnpike Industrial Road.
Hayes said the park is being developed to accommodate businesses that are outgrowing their present facilities, as well as attracting new industries into the city.
“This is very preliminary,” Hayes said of the current process. As the urban renewal plan is created it will be reviewed and approved by city agencies before it is submitted to the state for review at that level. The Westfield Redevelopment Authority, Planning Board and City Council will all have an opportunity to assess and amend the plan, which will also be the subject of public meetings for resident input.
“Once the plan is in place, the city can start to complete for (state and federal) types of funding,” Hayes said.
The two groups will meet again in January to begin the process of molding the plan, with a goal of seeking municipal approvals later in the year.

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